Books / Pluralistic World

Leadership in Turbulent Times (Doris Kearns Goodwin, 2018)

Studies in leadership

Doris Kearns Goodwin is the best sort of historian: a careful scholar who teaches by telling compelling stories. In Leadership in Turbulent Times, Goodwin profiles four Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Each was in the White House at a crucial point in American history and each exercised decisive leadership at a time the nation needed it. For each of the four Goodwin identifies the ambition that shaped their rise to power, a crisis that temporarily shattered their dreams that they had to overcome, and the leadership they exercised as President.

Goodwin addresses classic questions about leadership: “Are leaders born or made? Where does ambition come from? How does adversity affect the growth of leadership? Do the times make the leader or does the leader shape the times? How can a leader infuse a sense of purpose and meaning into people’s lives? What is the difference between power, title, and leadership? Is leadership possible without a purpose larger than personal ambition?” [p. xii]

It should not be controversial to suggest that the opening decades of the 21stcentury represent, in America and globally, within the church and without, a period of significant leadership crisis. Goodwin’s Leadership in Turbulent Timesis not all a discerning believer needs to think the issue through, but it is a helpful and delightful addition to the conversation.

Book recommended: Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; 2018) 368 pages + bibliography + notes + index